Rio’s classic bossa nova ballad “The Girl from Ipanema” turns 50 this month. Publically performed for the first time in August 1962 in a Copacabana nightclub, the tune that embodies Rio de Janeiro is the second-most recorded song in the world.
The slow sway saunters you down the palm tree lanes of Rio de Janeiro, past Ipanema’s sandy perfection and through Copacabana’s carefree shores. The song both captures and was inspired by Rio’s blithe beaches and carefree ambiance.
Composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes were drinking Brahma beer along Rio’s boardwalk when a muse walked by. It was 17-year-old Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, a Rio local with green eyes and long wavy dark hair. Known to friends as Helo, the Girl from Ipanema sang along to the song for years before discovering in 1965 that she motivated the two men to write the now world-wide hit. Helo become somewhat of a Brazilian celebrity, named a goodwill ambassador of her country and working in the acting and modeling industries.
The song made it to the US in 1964 with English lyrics written by Norman Gimbel, but sung by another beautiful Brazilian temptress, Astrud Gilberto. It was the bossa nova singer’s first professional recording. Since then, the song has been recorded by everyone from Amy Winehouse to Frank Sinatra.
After listening to the song one more time, go ahead and read more about the charms of Rio de Janeiro.
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Thanks to Seier and Seier for the title image of this blog.